Can you believe that a juicy, perfectly seared cast iron chicken breast takes just 25 minutes to make?! With only 3 ingredients and this simple cast iron chicken recipe, you can make a flavor-packed dinner for your family. The best part is, this meal is healthy, delicious, and kids love it, too!
Content Covered Here
Why We Love Cast Iron Chicken Breast
- Easy and quick! 5 minutes of prep, 20 minutes of cooking, and dinner is done!
- Pairs well with practically everything.
We just use simple seasonings. This way, the skillet chicken, tastes great with whatever you want to serve on the side. Steamed or roasted vegetables, cornbread, fluffy biscuits, potatoes, mac and cheese, rice… So many possibilities!!
- It’s a lean, healthy protein that fits into many different diets and dietary lifestyles. It’s gluten free, dairy free, keto, low fat, and low in calories too!
Ingredients Notes + Substitutions
- Chicken Breast
Use boneless breasts, so they cook quickly and evenly. Tenderloins are a decent white meat substitute; the most important thing is to use poultry that is boneless and skinless.
Prefer dark meat?
If you like your poultry a little less lean, we have a recipe for cast iron chicken thighs.
- Olive Oil – Corn, sunflower, and avocado oil are all relatively flavorless, relatively healthy substitutions.
- Garlic Salt – A mixture of garlic powder and regular salt is a good DIY seasoning blend. Ratio-wise, you’ll want roughly three parts salt to one part garlic.
Does your family love skillet meals?
You can avoid washing a pile of dirty dishes by making your meals in one pan!
Start off your day with a hearty breakfast skillet of turkey sausage gravy and biscuits. Or, for an easy weeknight dinner, make our caprese chicken skillet dinner!
Helpful Tips for This Cast Iron Chicken Recipe
Here are a few of of our best tips for pan searing chicken:
- Remove any excess moisture.
To start, pat the chicken dry with a paper towel on all sides. Not only does this help the seasoning stick, but it also helps to create a beautiful, even sear.
- Be sure the oil and pan are very hot.
A hot pan creates a good sear, which leads to juicy cast iron chicken breast! But you need the oil to be hot too. Otherwise, it will just soak into the poultry.
- Leave the skillet uncovered.
Trapping moisture inside the pan causes the food to steam rather than sear. In the end, the chicken breasts will have an uneven texture and char.
- Rotate the pan.
Another thing that will help create perfectly cooked cast iron skillet chicken breast is to rotate the skillet one quarter turn every few minutes.
- Inspect the chicken breasts before flipping them over.
Finally, don’t flip all of the pieces in one go – examine each individually before flipping. Even if they are similar in size, there is no guarantee they will all cook at the same rate.
- Safety first – Check the internal temperature!
Do not skip this step! There is just too much risk of someone getting food poisoning from eating undercooked chicken. The only way to guarantee that the food is safe to eat is to use an digital food thermometer to test for doneness.
Cast iron skillet chicken breasts are safe to eat when the internal temperature at the thickest portion is 165°F.
- Cut very large pieces in half.
The measurements and timing for our cast iron chicken recipe are based on breasts that are 4-6 ounces each. Adjust the time appropriately for smaller cuts as well so that you don’t overcook them!
- Keep an eye on the oil.
When the oil reaches a good medium-high heat, it’ll start to shimmer. This is exactly what you need for shallow frying. It’s hot, but it’s not quite at its smoking point yet.
- Let the chicken rest before serving.
Let small cuts (8 ounces or less) rest for 5 minutes or so. Larger cuts will need to rest for up to 10 minutes. This is incredibly important to make sure all of that hard-earned flavor and juiciness doesn’t leak right back out of your cast iron skillet chicken breast!
Frequently Asked Questions
When you cook in cast iron, the seasoning works as a natural anti-stick coating. A well-cared-for iron pan develops a layer of seasoning after each use. Without it, you will have trouble with food sticking.
In this cast iron skillet chicken breast recipe, we do both! The initial pan sear builds great texture and flavor, and secondary baking cooks the meat the rest of the way without losing any of the juices inside.
Storing and Reheating
This skillet recipe makes enough for 4 servings, so it’s great for small families. Or, if you are a family of two, there will be leftovers to use later in the week!
If you shred the meat, this skillet chicken is fantastic in salads, wraps, pastas, and sandwiches! You can even use it to boost the protein in a bowl of soup. It would be delicious in potato soup or Great Northern bean soup.
Any leftovers should be refrigerated in an airtight container. Be sure to use them up within 5 days.
In the oven
Place the leftovers on a sheet pan, and cover the pan with foil. Place it in a preheated oven at 350°F. for 20 minutes or so, until your meal reaches that food-safe, internal temperature of 165°F.
In a cast iron pan
Another option is to put the leftovers back into your cast iron skillet. If you choose this method, you may need to add some water or broth to the pan, and definitely use a lid. You want that moisture to stay in the pan.
Cast Iron Chicken Breast
- cast iron skillet 11-12" - or other large, oven-safe skillet
- cooking tongs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil See Note 1
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 breasts, about 4-6 ounces each)
- 2 teaspoons garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Heat oven to 425ºF.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large cast iron skillet. Place skillet on stove burner over medium-high heat to preheat. **When ready, the oil should be shimmering, but not smoking.
- Meanwhile, use paper toweling to pat the chicken breasts dry.
- Add garlic salt and black pepper to a small bowl; stir to combine. Sprinkle seasonings generously on both sides of chicken.
- Place breasts in the skillet with hot oil. Do not cover pan with a lid, use a splatter screen to contain the oil (if needed). Cook the breasts, without moving them, for 5 minutes to give the exterior a golden sear. Once the first side is golden and crispy, use long tongs to turn the breasts over and repeat on the other side. *See Notes 4 and 5
- Transfer the cast iron skillet to the oven and roast for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through. Test the internal temperature of the center of the meat with an instant-read meat thermometer. Poultry should be cooked to 165ºF.
- If using a larger pan, you may need a little more oil.
- For the best sear, be sure the chicken is dry before adding it to the pan.
- Do not cover the cast iron skillet with a lid; it will prevent moisture from escaping, so you’ll have steamed chicken breasts rather than seared.
- While searing, rotate the skillet 1/4 turn every few minutes. This helps the poultry cook evenly.
- Check each chicken breast individually before turning it over; some will sear quicker than others.